Courtesy Big Box FarmsWith this indoor growing technology, dubbed Farm Rack, New York City-based Big Box Farms can offer retailers and foodservice customers locally grown packaged salads within 24 hours of harvest. A start-up company in New York City is in negotiations with retailers to provide pesticide-free leafy greens to consumers within 24 hours of harvest.
Jordan Motzkin, founder and chief executive officer of Big Box Farms, said Sept. 19 that his company is negotiating $5 million in retail contracts now, after two years of research and development in Maine. Big Box uses proprietary, patent-pending technology to grow leafy greens that are packaged for consumers under private labels.
The private-label salad business got huge boosts in late 2010 when Kroger and Wal-Mart decided to enter the arena. But Motzkin was working on his Big Box Farms concept long before that.
Partnering with Maine’s College of the Atlantic, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Motzkin developed the Farm Rack growing system and its companion Farm Hand technology. On the company website, Motzkin describes his business as “a disruptive, revolutionary hybrid that combines the benefits of small-scale farming and large-scale agribusiness.”
Courtesy Big Box FarmsAlong with its proprietary indoor growing technology, Big Box Farms uses this patent-pending Farm Hand system to manage pesticide-free growing and harvesting of leafy greens. He said the Farm Rack growing technology allows indoor growing facilities to be located near retailers’ distribution centers so packaged leafy greens can be on shelves within 24 hours of harvest. Growing facilities can also be near general distribution centers that serve a variety of retailers and foodservice clients.
Because of the shorter transportation time, Motzkin said the shelf life of his salad mixes will be two to three times longer than that of traditionally grown and shipped bagged salads.
To ensure the success of his venture, Motzkin signed food industry veteran Chuck Weiss as adviser and chairman of the board. During his career Weiss has managed a $700 million division at Nabisco and consulted for Kraft Foods, General Mills, Pillsbury and Hershey Foods.
Weiss describes Big Box Farms as a “revolutionary business model” that will allow retailers and foodservice providers to offer better products and “make more money doing it.”